A new recovery clinic wants to help those with drug addiction heal. This time, though, it’s not with your typical 12-step program or methadone treatments. One Los Angeles clinic is taking a radical approach to addiction. Rather than force abstinence, the folks at High Sobriety want to help those in recovery by giving them cannabis. Here’s how this one man hopes to treat opioid addiction with cannabis.
Sometimes, it takes a daring move to set a new norm. The opioid crisis has been made countless headlines over the past couple of years.
Claiming as many as 33,000 U.S. lives in 2015, the intensity of the opioid epidemic is increasing. The Centers for Disease Control found that opioid overdose deaths (from pain pills and heroin) have quadrupled.
Now, one bold individual has decided to take a stab at the opioid epidemic in a different way. Joel Schrank, the founder of High Sobriety, has set out to create a cannabis-inclusive treatment clinic.
Though highly controversial, Schrank wants to see if cannabis treatment can help individuals in need ween off of pain pills and other narcotics.
Schrank himself is no stranger to the devastation of opioid and drug overdose. As reported by The Guardian, it was a short six years ago that one of Schrank’s good friends, Greg Giraldo, passed away after a drug overdose.
Schrank is a social worker, and he works with addicts regularly. Still, the passing of his friend really shook him up. He said,
Greg’s death really rattled me to the core. He tried the abstinence route and it never really took root. I felt like rehab had failed him. It failed his family. It failed me.
I kept thinking he could be smoking pot instead of dead. And that’s a big difference.
Schrank articulated that cannabis has no lethal dose. There’s certainly no doubt that substances like cocaine and valium do have lethal doses, meaning that a switch to cannabis substantially lowers risk for this reason alone.
You can consume an entire ounce of cannabis, and while that may not make you feel very well, the herb won’t kill you.
Still, the idea of swapping one substance out only to encourage another one in its place makes some concerned parties a little uneasy. Fortunately, Schrank is not one of those people.
Tired of waiting while patients suffered, Schrank teamed up with psychiatrist Scott Bienenfeld to figure out ways to safely incorporate cannabis into a treatment plan for patients with addiction.
After years of work, Schrank founded High Sobriety, a revolutionary treatment center that uses cannabis as a key part of the therapy.
Located in Culver City, Los Angeles, the treatment center boasts an outdoor deck reserved for cannabis consumption, pending doctor approval.
Trained medical professionals work with patients at the center to ensure that they are using cannabis safely, and in a way that is conducive to helpful treatment.
Unlike many methadone clinics out there, High Sobriety was designed to make guests feel comfortable, relaxed, and at ease.
Innovative on all fronts, High Sobriety is a far cry from the 12-step methodology that dominates the addiction recovery area. While some people certainly find these helpful, High Sobriety approaches addiction from a different point of view, focusing on harms and risk reduction and a realistic approach to abstinence, which is that it doesn’t always work.
Like most rehabilitation centers, High Sobriety comes with a steep price tag. A month in this facility can cost over $42,000, which Schrank argues is about average for treatment programs. Interested parties also have to meet certain requirements before participation, including being of at least 25 years old.
While it’s still too soon to tell how well this cannabis model will work in the long run, there’s no doubt that Schrank is admirable in his willingness to stick his neck out and break through the standard models of treatment, which leave an estimated 75 percent of patients without the assistance that they need.
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